Commit your attitude, your words to God’s ministry

Taking time for others, sacrificing, giving of ourselves or of our possessions, all part of God’s calling on us.

Luke 6:38 – If you give to others, you will be given a full amount in return. It will be packed down, shaken together, and spilling over into your lap. The way you treat others is the way you will be treated.

We don’t give to receive but we can be mindful that God loves a cheerful giver!

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

GIVE

Give not to receive but because you believe in your cause, give not just in part, but in whole, generosity, part of your growth strategy, give because you love, give because your heart tells you to,  be alive with God’s power, full of zeal and enthusiasm, not some random act of kindness but something that takes single mindedness, as you offer your mind, your thoughts to the Lord, as you commit your attitude, your words to God’s ministry, start to think differently, what would Jesus do?  A good barometer for your actions, a reminder to consider all your reactions, giving becomes a way of living, give your time, your gifts, your money, and God will lift you and treat you abundantly

if you don’t give 100% it’s something less than sacrificial

Been thinking today about the benefit of hindsight.  As Christians, we all know the outcome of the Crucifixion.  Sometimes perhaps we are a little too familiar rushing through Good Friday so we can get to the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday.

In my Bible reading this morning I read of the four women who stood beside the cross and witnessed his death.  It made me question, how did they feel?  His Mother, his Aunt (had never realised that she was there), as well as friends. They didn’t have the benefit of knowing that Jesus would rise again.  There must have been so much grief and hurt, sadness and pain as they watched Jesus, whom they all loved, murdered in front of their eyes.

John 19:25-27 – Jesus’ mother stood beside his cross with her sister and Mary the wife of Clopas. Mary Magdalene was standing there too.  When Jesus saw his mother and his favourite disciple with her, he said to his mother, “This man is now your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “She is now your mother.” From then on, that disciple took her into his own home.

If I am honest up until this year I don’t think I had a clue what pain and anguish they went through, because I had never experienced the death of a close friend or relative.  Having lost my brother suddenly in January I can relate more closely with some of their emotions.

The final part that really stood out for me was that in his suffering he still was thinking of others as he asked John to look after his Mother.  I think that is symbolic, he was thinking of his Mother, yet he was also thinking of me.  If he hadn’t been focussed on me (or you) then he wouldn’t have gone through with it, what would have been the point?  Right to the end the love of Jesus shone through, his sacrifice was given 100%, he never wavered from the path his Father gave him.

NO HALF MEASURES

Sacrifice, well it’s not really a sacrifice if it doesn’t cost or hurt, if you don’t give 100 per cent it’s something less than sacrificial, what would you get if you gave yourself fully to Jesus?  Just look at how he lived and died, in order to save us he had to give it all, there were no half measures, he didn’t stop after the mocking, he didn’t stop after the beating and even as he carried the cross on which he would hang he didn’t waver from God’s plan, see here’s the thing, we are not called to be like other Christians we are called to be like Jesus, what would happen if you came to Jesus right now just as you are, fall at his feet and allow him to make you complete, what would happen if you immersed yourself in his word, released the burdens you are carrying?  Don’t settle for cheap grace, forgiveness without repentance, God offers acceptance, love and salvation, our roles in this story are about something so much bigger, it just isn’t about you and it’s not about me, it’s about the big picture, Jesus dying on the Cross, Jesus’s sacrificial loss, Jesus rising from the grave to save you, to give you a hope and a future, don’t sell yourself short, don’t accept half measures, say goodbye to every sin cos you are forgiven, our risen Saviour saw to that, now ask yourself, what can I give back?

Sacrifice is not a badge of honour,

When Jesus tells his disciples that the first shall be last they struggle to take it in.  But to me it makes sense, whilst we seek to run the race we must also be mindful of how we run that race and the impact we have on the way. As humans I suppose it’s easy to always want to be the best, to boast of our successes, to be “big headed” at times and to take pride in our achievements.  But I see that anything I achieve is solely because of God’s love and grace, he is the driving force behind all that I do and say.  Nothing I do is going to take me to heaven but only what I believe and my faith in God who has shone his face upon me.

  • Mark 10:42-45 – Jesus called them together. He said, “You know about those who are rulers of the nations. They hold power over their people. Their high officials order them around.  Don’t be like that. Instead, anyone who wants to be important among you must be your servant. And anyone who wants to be first must be the slave of everyone. Even the Son of Man did not come to be served. Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.”

FIRST AND LAST

Jesus said what?  The first shall be last and the last shall be first, do I thirst to be a loser, bottom of the pack, don’t I want to be the first, to stack up my list of good deeds and actions, well no that’s not the reaction, sacrifice is not a badge of honour, nothing guarantees you’re first in line, haven’t you learnt that salvation cannot be earned, it is a gift of grace, let’s face it Jesus was renowned for turning social order upside down, the first shall be last and the last shall be first, the things of value in this world the polar opposite to the things our God values, money asks you to choose, for man cannot serve two masters, discipleship about picking up your cross and following Jesus, not what we can get it’s about love, a 100 per cent commitment, a devoted heart that ultimately does not want to be apart from the love of our Saviour, if you’re searching for the crown of glory this is the story, give total commitment not half hearted dedication, accept the cross if you want to wear the crown, lay down your pride to discover eternal life, life in all its fullness, a gift, a blessing, this is God’s message, humble yourself, be a faithful servant, seek only to serve God fervently and passionately give your all, don’t seek to be large, be happy being small.

I take my princess crown and cast if before you

Last night at our Ladies group we sang Love divine all loves excelling, what an amazing hymn.  I particularly love the last verse:

Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise. 

How awesome to sing that verse knowing that one day I will “cast my crown” before the Lord, I have an amazing image in my head of that moment.  It also speaks of God finishing his new creation, I know I will never be finished while here on earth but it’s an incredible thought that one day I will be exactly as God designed me to be.

  • James 1:12 – Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
  • Psalm 103: 4-5 – who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
  • Isaiah 35:10 – and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
  • Isaiah 61:3 – and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:25 – Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.
  • 1 Peter 5:4 – And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
  • Revelation 2:10 – Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

CROWNS

God you are amazing and I will be praising your name for all eternity, you are awesome and I feel so privileged to live in your protection, to know that my life has direction, a purpose, I question whether you have even scratched the surface of your love for me?  God you redeemed me from the pit and saw fit to crown this sinner’s head with a crown of love and compassion, fashioned a crown of beauty instead of ashes, your sacrificial blood washes over me and makes me clean, I have never seen such love before, such undeserved incredible love, such amazing grace and on that day in heaven when at last I gaze upon your face having completed this race I will be blessed knowing that I stood the test and passed with flying colours, I am not afraid of what I may suffer I have the comforter living within me, I reach out to you God and you rescue me, when you appear on that glorious day you will crown me with a crown of glory that will never fade away and until that day Lord as I serve here on earth I take my princess crown and cast if before you a small but heartfelt token of my immense love for you.

In weakness I said I didn’t know you

When I was out walking yesterday afternoon I was listening to some worship music and it really got my mind thinking about the concept of Jesus as a friend.  That then led to me thinking about how I would feel if a friend of mine was snatched from under my nose by the authorities, condemned to death and that death was a public execution. It kind of puts a different slant on what Jesus did for us, it made me see it from a different angle and I cannot begin to imagine the hurt and the pain of his family and friends who witnessed his death.

Wrote this from Peter’s perspective..

BEST FRIEND

Best friend taken from before my eyes, soldiers came with weapons drawn, manhandled you through the crowd, it was all so loud, so quick, so sudden and I didn’t stop to think of heaven and what this arrest meant to all mankind, I was frightened, this was my teacher, my friend and I couldn’t mend this, I couldn’t stop the rot of humanity stealing my best friend from me, and my heart bleeds as I think of the pain they inflicted, the mocking, the laughing, how they goaded you, but you remained true to your Father in heaven, you never raised a hand in self-defence, you accepted their violence as part of the package of my salvation, we family and friends had to watch in frustration as the soldiers made their preparations, as you walked with the cross your hands were shackled but you could have tackled them there, made your escape, it wasn’t too late, but you knew if you did it would be too late for me, I could never be free if you didn’t see it through, you knew and my pain comes in knowing that you were going to die a death that would hurt, you would hang in the heat of the midday sun, your body ravaged, savaged by those who worked for the enemy, who thought this was the way to change our destiny, but their expectancy was flawed, this was the door to eternity, God’s son a living sacrifice bringing life back to me, it is finished you cried and as I cried and hid my face I was not aware of the grace that God poured out on me in that moment, I was frozen in sadness, shame and regret, I had let them take you, denied you, three times I had denied our friendship, I thought we were joined at the hip and then in weakness I said I didn’t know you, but even that didn’t throw you, you knew, you’d told me before but I was too stubborn to believe your words, words that ring now in my head, rang loud and true now you were dead.  But it wasn’t finished for I witnessed the miracle for myself, Jesus come back to life, Jesus returned from the grave, you came to save us, you came for freedom, so all could enter your heavenly Kingdom and your love overpowered, you forgave me my weakness, overlooked my failings, and I am hailing you as my friend and my King, I shared in your suffering not realising I was witnessing my God and King dying so that I could live, how can I not give my life back to you, how can I not do whatever you ask me to do?

Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven

As I continue to read about Abraham I am blown away by his faith and his willingness to sacrifice all to God.

Genesis 22:2 – Then God said, “Take your son, your only son. He is the one you love. Take Isaac. Go to Moriah. Give him to me there as a burnt offering. Sacrifice him on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

It does make you question your own faith, if God asked you to sacrifice your own child (highly improbable in this day and age!!) what would you do?  However there are sacrifices that God wants us to make some of which are really hard, things we have always done, lifestyle choices, possessions even friends or relationships that need to be addressed.  There are also smaller sacrifices, like how do we make time in this busy world to spend time with God in prayer and worship?  That may mean a sacrifice, making time for God is so important and if that means getting up half an hour earlier to be with God then it is so worth it.

Matthew 16:24 -Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

God made the ultimate sacrifice by sending Jesus to die for us, so I consider the sacrifices I have made in my life minor in comparison to his great gift to me.

Isaiah 53: 4-9 – Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested?  For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

SACRIFICE

Sacrifice, that’s like giving up something I value for the sake of something even more important, to not relent in my investment in my salvation and in order to sacrifice I have to passionately believe in the outcome, to believe that Jesus overcame when he bore our pain and suffering, smothering us with a divine love, with healing grace the likes of which had never been seen and never will be again, he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our wickedness, yet there was no sin in him, no evil, no malicious intent, he was sent here by his Father, a living sacrifice so we could have life, God’s investment in Jesus a gift to us, releasing us from sin and shame, and Jesus named us as his children our lives pre-ordained in his book and that must be a hook, a magnet to draw you in to want to sacrifice in order to have a life built in Christ, to pray, forgive with humility, love with intensity, find time to spend with the most amazing deity and I for one want to pick up my cross and follow him who died for me, to sacrifice what I hold dear, to draw near and the more I give the more I find that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven and in the end I’ve learned it’s no sacrifice at all, more a reward for those called by God to draw near, spending time with God is time that is dear to me, precious moments of intense communication, cherished fellowship, me and God building a deep and personal relationship.

#unbelievable

Good Friday – what a gift, what a love, what a sacrifice.. just thinking about in in any detail blows me away.. this was a horrifying and brutal killing, a barbaric act that our Saviour could have walked away from at any time, he could have cried out to God to save him and we would not have the redemption we have, he could have walked away from us to save himself but he didn’t he sacrificed his own life for us…that is love and if you have never known love then you can now.. Jesus loves you that much he died for you..what an amazing love

Was just looking and reflecting on some less obvious verses today related to the crucifixion

  • Ephesians 2:18- For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
  • Psalm 22:27 – All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
  • Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many
  • Zechariah 4:6 – ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.

UNBELIEVABLE

Unbelievable; access to the Father because the world changed forever the day my Saviour died for me.  He came to serve, he didn’t ask for me to serve him he just wanted to save as many as possible from the enemy, he became our ransom, Jesus a living sacrifice for all our sins. He drew a line in the sand forever, our Saviour made it personal and that’s eternal, an eternal covenant with our God, access to the Father through the Spirit, Jesus was wounded, tormented, despised and rejected and subjected to the worst kind of death, death on a cross. That’s love; unconditional and unfettered love from a God who loves us so much he sent his only son to live as we do, he gets it, knows what it is to live as a human with all the trials and tribulations all the worries and temptations, he was blameless perfection and because of this God asked him to die in our place, amazing love how can it be that Jesus would die on a cross for me, outrageous grace, unspeakable mercy, at his name I bow my knee and one day he will return, all the ends of the earth will remember, all nations will turn to the Lord and surrender and I will live with my Saviour forever.